By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – Among the many interesting findings of the WBZ-TV, WBZ NewsRadio, UMass Amherst poll this week, there was this: in a series of hypothetical 2018 match ups, Sen. Elizabeth Warren struggles to dismiss some challenges.

(WBZ-TV graphic)

(WBZ-TV graphic)

She beats Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito by four points and former Gov. Bill Weld by only three points, both within the poll’s margin of error. Warren’s favorability rating is 46%, only slightly higher than her unfavorable rating and below the 50% threshold that usually signals likely re-election.

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When our pollsters asked voters what word comes to mind first when they think of Warren, positive words like “strong” and “fighter” were dwarfed by the most common adjective associated with her: “liar.”

Warren remains an odds-on favorite to win re-election; if she were to confront a legitimate threat in 2018, she can and will mobilize an avalanche of support from liberals, unions and donors from across the country.

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But these results should come as something of a warning sign to Warren that her local image needs some tweaking between now and then.

Warren has delivered on her 2012 promise to fight corporate predators and torture Republicans nationally. But voters here got used to the late Ted Kennedy doing that and taking care of the home front as well. With Ted gone, our delegation has struggled at times to protect our interests.

And the last thing most voters want to see is yet another Massachusetts pol more interested in their national future than in our futures. To the extent that Warren is seen as contracting Potomac fever, she should perhaps start worrying about another disease – the voters getting sick of her.

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Listen to Jon’s commentary:

Jon Keller